US President Donald Trump extended a sanctions waiver on Iran on Friday, keeping the landmark nuclear deal with Tehran in force for at least another three months.
Trump did, however, warn that Friday’s waiver would be the last time he was prepared to prevent Congress from putting sanctions in place unless a significantly strengthened agreement was reached with Iran and the US’ European allies within 120 days. The US would otherwise be prepared to withdraw from the agreement, according to the White House.
“The president’s decision is to waive once more the nuclear sanctions that the terms of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) require the United States to waive in order to remain in the deal,” a White House official said.
US Congress requires the president regularly recertify that Iran is in compliance with the agreement — a deal Trump has called the worst the US has ever entered into and which he promised to “rip up.”
Trump also said he wants to amend US law to make Iran’s long-range missile program inseparable from its nuclear program. Both Iran and US allies in Europe that also helped negotiate the accord, however, are unlikely to agree to such a change.
The White House has said that such a new deal would also be permanent and not expire after 10 years, as is the case with the current 2015 accord.
“If the president can get that agreement that meets his objective and it never expires, it denies Iran all paths to nuclear weapons forever, not for 10 years, he would be open to remaining in such a modified deal,” the White House official said.
Trump has reportedly complained behind the scenes that the deal makes the US look weak. Under the agreement — which was signed by China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union — the West lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.
Trump has come under heavy pressure from European leaders not to walk away from the deal. On Thursday, Britain, France and Germany called on the US to uphold its part of the pact. France’s Emmanuel Macron also reportedly called Trump personally stressing the importance of the accord.
US Treasury sanctions Iranian officials
The White House’s announcement coincided with a series of new sanctions by the Treasury Department targeting Iranian officials. Among them is the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani. The White House said the move was a response to Tehran’s crackdown on recent anti-government demonstrations.
The new sanctions come on top of previous designations announced back in May and October. Those mainly targeted Iranian defense officials, as well a China-based network the US says is supporting Iran’s missile program.
dm/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)